Philippine Divorce Law Changes

Aug 8, 2012 by

Americans marrying Filipinos and Filipinos marrying Americans have long shared a common problem when it comes to divorce; the nation of the Philippines has never had any provisions for divorce at all. Persons wanting to remarry were often just plain out of luck if they wanted a divorce in that country. Under Philippine law there was no divorce procedure, only annulment was on the books and an annulment in the Philippines is an extremely difficult status to obtain. Even those Filipinos who obtained a divorce outside of the Philippines still had to obtain an annulment in the Philippines in order to remarry in that country.

Ever since 1987 when the current laws were passed, the Philippine government has officially prohibited married couples from splitting up via a legal and binding divorce.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that the dominant religion in the Philippines’ is Roman-Catholic, a religion that also frowns on divorce. Many Filipinos have had to remain in crumbling relationships due to pressure of the Filipino laws and pressure from the general public as well.

Some Philippine politicians have said religion and government need more interaction to ensure the survival of families and that if divorce laws are adopted in the country, it will encourage families to split up. Others have said it is more destructive to force people to be together and that freedom of choice is the freedom for happiness.

Now, two Philippine Congresswomen from the Gabriela Women’s Party have proposed introducing divorce in the country to allow their nation to join the rest of the world with modern divorce laws. Congresswomen Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus introduced House Bill No. 1799, “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines,” on July 27 this year. Ilagan and De Jesus stated that “This bill is being introduced based on indications that Philippine society is ready for the legalization of divorce. The sanctity of marriage is not based on the number of marriages existing but on the quality of marital relationships.”

The introduction of House Bill No. 1799 has caused some debate and some are suggest the issue of divorce needs more debate considering there are just as many people who favor the measure as those who don’t. Critics say the bill advocates American-style no-fault divorce, making it too easy to get a divorce. The claim that no-fault divorce is not acceptable or well-suited to Philippine culture and society will be put to the test later this year if the bill becomes law.


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